"There comes a time in life when you have a choose between two sets of principles; power and privilege, or justice and truth" - Chris Hedges
Increasingly at my own university (Warwick) my fellow students are making their career choices all too clear, and truth and justice aint on the menu. Not a day goes by on my Facebook page where I fail to witness the pixelated fawning wannabes, schmoozing their corporate entertainers with the hope of acceptance and employment. Arms dealers and bankers that wrecked the economy are favourites on the menu.
I'd call it degrading if it wasn't so willingly desired by most of the attendees. It reminds me of a wretched scene depicted in the book "The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists" where destitute working men with literally starving families, would with shameful deference, address their exploitative employers (in the true sense of the words) endlessly as: "sir" "sir" "sir". The desperate unemployed would congregate and then follow the "gentleman" employers around like poodles with their caps off, inquiring: "any chance of a job sir?" repeatedly. Every time I send a bloody email to one of these captains of industry asking for work experience I feel like one of those men: "any chance of a job sir?". It really is pathetic.
Today in the world of corporate dominance, this behaviour isn't regarded as degrading, but a symptom of a: "dynamic economy", "a mobile" - flexible labour force" of "willing entrepreneurs". We're all apparently marching forward to a fine future of self-reliance and capitalist enterprise. Bullshit yes, but believed bullshit it certainly is by many at university. This is what happens when democracy comes second to big business, we ask them for permission to exist, even in academia, instead of the other way round.
Most students I know think this is entirely reasonable and desirable; they even seem to practice how to hold their champagne glass in the mirror. The young Tories are pros at this; their skinny frames barely filling their suits paid for by their parents. We expect this of them, it's what they do best, they're not ashamed. Now sadly however, this has become the norm for everybody. Why? Because the Tories won (New Labour included) so we all have to live with the consequences of this living hell of a labour market they tell us all to embrace for our own sake.
Of course however, as we are frequently told, we have a choice. Yes. What a fine choice it is. Either we whore ourselves for free to record profit making institutions, for that holy thing 'work experience'. Or, we're left destitute without employment. The same kind of choice an imprisoned Tirian Lannister had in Game of Thrones season 1, between throwing himself off a cliff to be "free", or embracing his captives. Or the scene in the Dear Hunter where prisoners have the choice of pulling the trigger in Russian roulette themselves, or alternatively being shot in the head by their captives. Capitalist choice really is a fine thing indeed. What lavish freedoms we bathe in when we have no family contacts and unearned privileges to guide us to success. To add insult, I can't even choose to "sponge off" the benefit system anymore to avoid this hell, because the conservatives have decimated it, the swine.
Such student "networkers" happy with this intern culture, adopt what I call: "mums and dads politics". They put on their nice little suits and act like big boys and girls with the hope of being accepted in to what George Carlin once called: "the big club". In reaction, the famous phrase that echoes around every campus around the world to describe such people is: "sell outs". Which I happily embrace myself for oral convenience, but on reflection it usually means nothing. Why? Because how can you sell out when you didn't believe in anything worth selling in the first place?
I mean honestly for example. Am I being a horribly presumptuous, insulting, patronizing naysayer when I say: "did anyone as a boy really dream of becoming an investment banker?" I didn't even know what it was as a lad. This is the dream however many of my friends and colleagues chase like acid trip victims. We all know why. Money. Pure and simple.
So. Do we blame them for these shallow pursuits? Or, do we instead recognise that if society can only offer and promotes these vain ambitions, then is it surprising that so many gifted young people embrace this path? How else could anyone who lives in this economic hell, caused by these very same people, in good conscience desire to work for them? Because apparently that's the best Britain can offer its young people in terms of financial remuneration, so they flock there like sheep.
At the foundation of this we have a culture of money worship in the UK and young people are trained members of this cult, instinctively following it. That's why during the London riots, people who have every right to be furious at a society that's abandoned them, could best express it only by stealing trainers and G star hoodies. That's our generation's cry of the proletariat.
But, excuses for their behaviour aside, being an idealist, I'm still going to call you a scum bag for getting in with the Tory party upper echelons, or the criminal bankers. It's cathartic and I enjoy it. I won't ever stop, someone has to do it. You are undeniably the up keepers and future apologists for a disgraceful economic system, that robs the many and preserves the few. Remember, that the more you kneel before the idols of power, the more you diminish the chances of truth and justice for us all. BUT left wing brothers and sisters, forgive my cynicism. I'm still on your side and I appreciate the other alternatives so many young people courageously embrace, forsaking money and the fine examples they set. We must however, face up to the reality of what we're up against. It's ugly and it dominates university culture all too often.
In the meantime, I'll try and fulfil my dream of finding what I call "a progressive internship". Wish me luck, I'll need it.